Patternless Robe



Summertime Terry Cloth Robe (No Pattern)



Concept and narrative by Barbara in St. Louis with editing and collaboration by Mary. Write to her here if you have any questions.


I am wearing the new terry cloth robe inside out. I did a first run of a new concept for me thinking I could make changes for the gift robes. I chose not to use ribbing at all because it is summer and I wanted a bit of a hole to let in fresh air. I bought 2 full bolts of white terry cloth to make robes for gifts. You can use any fabric you want, but I highly recommend a woven cotton.

The first run robe is a good one and I should be able to make several one size fits all terry cloth robes pretty quickly. I think the robes will be a hit for my relatives to put on after swimming or showering.

What I discovered is, because I always finish my seams beautifully, my robe looks very nice inside out. I can also wear it backwards if it is inside out. That gives me 3 surfaces to spill my breakfast or late night snack before I have to wash the robe.

The bad news is that it took me about 4 days to design, free-motion embroider the pockets and remove an embroidery that accidentally got the front and back sewn together. I did the embroideries after I finished constructing the robe; you may adapt as you see fit.

1. Robe Body

This robe is just a hunk of terry cloth long enough to cover me from shoulder to ankle, front and back. For length, measure from the top of your shoulder to the location of the desired length, and multiply by 2. For width, take your largest circumference in inches, add 12, and divide by 2 to find your minimum width. With arms outstretched, measure from one wrist to the other to find your maximum width, or the width of the fabric, whichever is less. Cut your fabric piece based on these measurements.

If you have a serger, now is the time to finish all cut edges of the fabric piece. Turn hems under to wrong side of fabric about -inch at bottom of front piece and back piece. If you serged these edges, you may topstitch with straight stitches. If not serged, with the turned-under layer down (towards the feed dogs), topstitch with a zigzag or 3-step zigzag stitch.

Neckline Treatment

2. Pin neckline markers

Pin neckline width. Fold robe piece in half across the future shoulder location. The hems should be together. Put a pin into the fabric at center of fold. Put a pin into the fold of the fabric at 4 inches to one side of the center pin, and another pin 4 inches to the other side.




Pin neckline depth. Pin into one layer of fabric, parallel to the fold and 3 inches from the center pin.


3. No facing, no slit

Form shallow part of neckline. Find a round object (plate, lid, etc.) that will hit each pin when the plate is placed partially onto the fabric (mostly off). Mark this line, remove pins, and cut through both layers. Alternately, you could remove pins and cut through both layers around object with rotary cutter (and mat). If no round object in your house will suit the need, freehand a half-oval shape, then cut.




Form deep part of neckline. To make front neck lower, find a smaller round object that will touch former location of side pins, yet make a curve that goes into the fabric more. Unfold the fabric and use this item to define the lower curve onto the front half, marking and cutting as above.




Neckline template concept. Alternately, you can use the above steps to make a template, then lay it on the center of the robe to cut.


Stitch -inch away from neckline. This staystitching helps to prevent the fabric from stretching. Turn neckline -inch to wrong side and pin. Topstitch from right side of fabric with zigzag or 3-step zigzag stitch.

Skip to Step 5.

4. With facing and optional slit or Vee neckline

One day I made the neck hole with a 5 inch straight sexy slit down the front neck. Select your facing fabric to match, coordinate, or contrast the robe fabric. I suggest a firmly woven fabric that's a medium or light weight.

For the facing, cut a rectangle of fabric large enough to cover the neck hole and slit, about 12 inches by 18 inches. If you are not making a slit, or you want a Vee neckline, you may cut the facing on the bias for a little more stability. For a little more interest, you could cut the facing into a diamond shape instead of a rectangle.

Following instructions in steps 2 and 3, fold the facing in half, wrong side out, and mark the facing on its wrong side. This will be the cutting line. DO NOT CUT THE NECKLINE HOLE OUT OF THE FACING PIECE. If you want a slit or Vee neckline, mark the slit or Vee shape about 3 to 5 inches long. For the slit, widen the bottom of the slit a little bit (about 1/8-inch), and widen the top of the slit a little more (at least -inch); these will be stitching lines. For the Vee neckline, mark the cutting line first. DO mark the stitching line -inch out from the cutting line of the neckline hole. DO mark and cut the desired outer shape of the facing, keeping in mind the -inch seam at the neckline and the optional slit or Vee.

Serge the outer edges of the facing. If you don't have a serger, use a zigzag or 3-step zigzag stitch.

With the robe piece opened right side up, place the facing on it, wrong side up, matching neckline reference points. Remove pins from robe, pin the facing to the robe piece around the neckline. Stitch together around the neckline, following the stitching lines. Cut inside the stitching at the cutting line. For the optional slit, cut down the center of the slit.

Clip the curves and trim a little more, as needed. Press the seam allowances toward the facing, and stitch them down where you can. That helps the facing lie flat and not come sneaking out.

Turn the facing to the inside, pin it down, and press. Topstitch the facing a -inch from the neckline edge on right side of the robe. Pin the outer edge of the facing down to the robe and stitch it down so there is no way the facing will come flying out of position. These two rows of topstitching may be done with straight stitch, "S"-curve stitch, zigzag stitch, or some other semi-basic stitch. That leaves two lines of stitching showing on the right side of the robe, but they do not show much because the terry cloth kind of tangles and covers the stitching.

5. Side Seams

Fold the robe right sides together so that the front hem matches the back hem. Pin the sides together at the location of the side seams, leaving it open 12 inches from the fold and 12 inches from the hem. Try it on and adjust the end points of the side seams. Stitch both sides with a -inch seam.

Place the robe on the ironing board, and press the seams open. Also press the remaining side and armhole edges -inch to the wrong side of the fabric. Topstitch as you did the hem.

6. Patch Pockets

For the pockets, you are on your own! I put the robe to be over my head and put each hand where it wanted the pattern to go then marked the center of the pocket top placement with a straight pin. I made my patch pockets, pinned them into location, and topstitched them on. Strangely, the pockets are not the same height - one is about 6 inches higher than the other - but I like it like that!

7. Embellishment

Once again, you are on your own here. I did a decorative stitch around the neck opening and 3 inches above the hem. I also did free-motion embroidery on the pockets. I did the decorative stitching before I sewed the side seams.